May 7, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 8:28 PM


Decade in the Red: Trump Tax Figures Show Over $1 Billion in Business Losses (RUSS BUETTNER and SUSANNE CRAIG, May 7, 2019, NY Times)

By the time his master-of-the-universe memoir "Trump: The Art of the Deal" hit bookstores in 1987, Donald J. Trump was already in deep financial distress, losing tens of millions of dollars on troubled business deals, according to previously unrevealed figures from his federal income tax returns.

Mr. Trump was propelled to the presidency, in part, by a self-spun narrative of business success and of setbacks triumphantly overcome. He has attributed his first run of reversals and bankruptcies to the recession that took hold in 1990. But 10 years of tax information obtained by The New York Times paints a different, and far bleaker, picture of his deal-making abilities and financial condition.

The data -- printouts from Mr. Trump's official Internal Revenue Service tax transcripts, with the figures from his federal tax form, the 1040, for the years 1985 to 1994 -- represents the fullest and most detailed look to date at the president's taxes, information he has kept from public view. Though the information does not cover the tax years at the center of an escalating battle between the Trump administration and Congress, it traces the most tumultuous chapter in a long business career -- an era of fevered acquisition and spectacular collapse.

The numbers show that in 1985, Mr. Trump reported losses of $46.1 million from his core businesses -- largely c[*****]s, hotels and retail space in apartment buildings. They continued to lose money every year, totaling $1.17 billion in losses for the decade.

In fact, year after year, Mr. Trump appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer, The Times found when it compared his results with detailed information the I.R.S. compiles on an annual sampling of high-income earners. His core business losses in 1990 and 1991 -- more than $250 million each year -- were more than double those of the nearest taxpayers in the I.R.S. information for those years.

Over all, Mr. Trump lost so much money that he was able to avoid paying income taxes for eight of the 10 years.

Posted by orrinj at 6:54 PM


The Sho Returns: Why the Angels feel Shohei Ohtani's encore performance could be even better than 2018 (Fabian Ardaya May 6, 2019, The Athletic)

[W]hen they worked out Ohtani -- who selected the Angels over the Mariners, Dodgers, Giants, Rangers, Padres and Cubs the previous December -- for the first time at the Ham Fighters' spring complex in Okinawa, his score, particularly in the vertical jump portion of testing, was average at best.

A month later, in Tempe, Ohtani ran through the same battery of tests. His vertical jump had increased by nine inches to become one of the highest in the organization. Eppler was blown away. It was not until Ohtani revealed to Li what happened that it all made sense.

Up until that January workout in Okinawa, Ohtani had never done a vertical jump test in his life. So when his results came back mediocre, the hyper-competitive Ohtani spent the next month watching YouTube videos and practicing on his own to develop the proper technique. He learned how to properly load his hips so as to not spring off of one leg and ruin the efficiency of his jump. He studied how to use his static starting position to generate force from the ground, maximizing his ability to jump up, and not forward.

So the 6-foot-4 Ohtani, who already had a fastball that could top 100 mph and the power to crush baseballs more than 500 feet while also proving to be fleet of foot, added the ability to jump.

Posted by orrinj at 6:20 PM


Exclusive: Trump fixer Cohen says he helped Falwell handle racy photos (Aram Roston , 5/07/19, Reuters) 

The Falwells wanted to keep "a bunch of photographs, personal photographs" from becoming public, Cohen told Arnold. "I actually have one of the photos," he said, without going into specifics. "It's terrible."

Cohen would later prove successful in another matter involving Falwell, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters. Cohen helped persuade Falwell to issue his endorsement of Trump's presidential candidacy at a critical moment, they said: just before the Iowa caucuses. Falwell subsequently barnstormed with Trump and vouched for the candidate's Christian virtues.

Is it better or worse that Jerry was blackmailed into being unChristian?

Posted by orrinj at 2:43 PM


UK goes more than 100 hours without using coal power for first time in a century (Tom Embury-Dennis, 5/07/19, The Independent)

Britain has gone more than four days without using coal-fired power to generate its electricity, smashing the previous record set during last month's Easter weekend.

By late Monday morning, the National Grid said the UK had gone 122 hours in a row and rising without using coal, the burning of which is one of the world's biggest contributors to climate change. 

It is the first time the nation has been powered for so long without the fossil fuel since the world's first coal-fired power station for public use was opened in London in 1882. 

Posted by orrinj at 2:37 PM


With Mueller on Justice staff, Barr has sway over testimony (MICHAEL BALSAMO and JONATHAN LEMIRE, 5/07/19, AP)

The president stewed for days about the prospect of the media coverage that would be given to Mueller, a man Trump believes has been unfairly lionized across cable news and the front pages of the nation's leading newspapers for two years, according to three White House officials and Republicans close to the White House.

Trump feared a repeat -- but bigger -- of the February testimony of his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, which dominated news coverage and even overshadowed a nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam.

Trump has long known the power of televised images and feared that Americans would be captivated by seeing -- and hearing -- Mueller, who has not spoken publicly since being named special counsel.

While Mueller is a Justice Department employee, the department would generally handle requests for him to appear before Congress, and the Justice Department could delay or block Mueller from voluntarily appearing. Congress could issue a subpoena to compel him to appear before the committee.

It isn't clear what grounds the Justice Department would use to justify an attempt to block Mueller's testimony.

As a private citizen, Mueller could decide whether to accept an invitation to appear or, if he declines, whether to attempt to resist any effort to subpoena him.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said last week the committee was "firming up the date" for Mueller's testimony and hoping it would be May 15. If the Justice Department tries to block Mueller's testimony, Democrats could issue a subpoena to try to compel his appearance.

Any showdown over Mueller's testimony would add to tensions between House Democrats and the Justice Department. Barr has already defied a subpoena to provide the full, unredacted version of Mueller's report, and Nadler has scheduled a Wednesday vote to hold the attorney general in contempt of Congress.

Posted by orrinj at 2:31 PM


Posted by orrinj at 12:01 AM


A New Version Of The Mueller Report Has Been Released In Response To A BuzzFeed News Lawsuit: The new version released Monday further explains why certain details were redacted from the public report. (Jason Leopold & Anthony Cormier, May 6, 2019, aBuzzfeed News)

Before the report was released, BuzzFeed News filed its public records request, as well as the related lawsuit, to compel the Department of Justice to explain any redactions in accordance with FOIA's nine exemptions. Each of those exemptions spell out the type of information the government can withhold and the harm that would result if it was disclosed.

Earlier this month, during a hearing in the case, US District Judge Reggie Walton said Barr had "created an environment that has caused a significant part of the American public to be concerned about whether there will be full transparency."

Walton, who made those comments before the report was publicly released, told the government attorney he may want to review an unredacted copy of the report to better understand the reasons for the redactions.

BuzzFeed News and EPIC will now have the opportunity to challenge the legitimacy of the redactions and argue before Walton that overwhelming public interest compels the disclosure of additional information in the report. At a hearing last week, Walton said he will still consider whether he should review an unredacted copy of the report but will wait until BuzzFeed News, EPIC, and the government finish arguments over the redactions.

Information wants to be free...

Posted by orrinj at 12:01 AM


'Put Them All in a Gas Chamber,' Said Border Militia Member: Report (Ken Klippenstein, May 6, 2019, TYT)

"Why are we just apprehending them and not lining them up and shooting them," a border militia member in New Mexico is alleged to have said of border migrants that the group had been monitoring.

"We have to go back to Hitler days and put them all in a gas chamber," the militia member, Armando Gonzalez, is also alleged to have said. Gonzalez did not respond to multiple requests for comment by TYT.

The disturbing comments appear in an April 24 police report containing allegations by a former member of the militia group. The former member, Steven Brant, contacted the Sunland Park Police Department to notify them of what he called "terroristic threats" he had witnessed by the group. The report was produced by the Sunland Park Police Department and was obtained by TYT through a public records request.

On April 18, the border militia, which calls itself the United Constitutional Patriots (UCP), sparked national outrage after reportedly detaining about 200 border migrants, including several children, at gunpoint. After video surfaced appearing to show UCP impersonating Border Patrol -- a federal offense -- the FBI arrested UCP's leader, Larry Mitchell Hopkins,.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Surprised advisers downplay Trump's tweet about Mueller testimony (DARREN SAMUELSOHN, DANIEL LIPPMAN and ELIANA JOHNSON, 05/06/2019, Politico)

Legal experts said that a direct order from Trump to stifle Mueller's testimony could trigger a battle over executive privilege as consequential as it is unpredictable.

"We are in uncharted waters here," said Greg Brower, former head of the FBI's congressional affairs office.

Democrats so far have shown no sign of backing down in their push for what would be blockbuster testimony from Mueller, who has not spoken publicly since his May 2017 appointment as special counsel investigating Russian election interference.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has said he'd like to bring Mueller before his panel in mid-May. 

Mr Mueller wrote the report for Mr. Nadler, not for the Donald.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


As cow milk loses popularity, big dairy and plant-based milk makers team up (LYDIA MULVANY, DEENA SHANKER and LESLIE PATTON, MAY 06, 2019, Bloomberg)

Dairy farmers are indignant about beverages being called milks when they are actually made of oats or almonds or sunflower seeds. Even worse, these impostors have been draining the market share of what cows produce.

But if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Although farmers loudly voice their complaints about alt-dairy products, conventional processors are starting to churn them out alongside traditional milk, aiming to cash in on their fast-growing popularity in the United States. One of the country's oldest dairies, HP Hood, has released a product called Planet Oat. The giant dairy cooperative Organic Valley is the distributor for a line of almond-based drinks made by New Barn Organics, and a dairy processor handles the packing.

"We wouldn't exist without Organic Valley," said Ted Robb, chief executive of New Barn, which makes the almond drinks and other nut-based products, including what it calls a buttery spread. "They have a very hard time calling it milk. That really, really bothers them. But they do understand we're thinking the same way around organic and deeper values." [...]

"From a processor perspective, they don't care what goes into the cartons, they just want the cartons filled," she said.

Milk is milk.